I’m sitting here, trying to understand why someone who belongs to the
sistah-hood of struggling, blood-stained, published romance authors would trash
another author’s first book.
Apparently, there’s an unwritten rule that, well, if you can’t say anything nice about a romance, don’t say anything at all. HelenKay takes exception:
In an effort to promote the genre, to suggest we should be taken seriously
outside of the romance writing world, we don’t shy away from the negative
review. After all, if we can’t self-critique in a way that amounts to more than
empty cheerleading, have we earned the credibility we insist we should have?
Helen elaborates on the point in the comments to her post:
I have to say I find romance writers’ professed views on this issue
completely disingenous. You see on blogs all the time how angry romance writers
are that their work isn’t taken seriously. How upset they are that their books
aren’t covered in magazines and book reviews and other public venues. Yet, these
authors get absolutely hostile if anyone dares to suggest their work suffers
from any deficiency. And, if the criticism comes from within the genre then the
calls for revenge and cries of unfairness start. That very reaction could be why
romance authors aren’t taken seriously. We act childish and unprofessional. When
we do that, I think we get what we deserve – laughed at.
I’ve got to agree with HelenKay on this one. It’s not a situation unique to Romance Writers. The same issues pervade the mystery field, too. My brother Tod had this to say to someone who didn’t agree with Helen:
You want to write and not have a critical eye placed upon your work? Fine. Stick
your stuff under your bed. But if you want to write and sell and have a career,
you have to understand that the written word is going to be examined. There’s no
genre of writing that is immune.
UPDATE: Alison Kent chimes in with a good over-view on both sides of the "controversy."